The unfairly neglected George Roy Hill (1921-2002)Turner Classic Movies screens George Roy Hill's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" - his biggest hit - at 8 p.m., est., on Monday, 16 February, bringing attention to an underrated filmmaker who, at best, received mostly left-handed compliments during his brief screen career.
It was his sixth film and it starred Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
Hill made 14 major films in about 25 years before retiring in 1988 to teach his craft at Yale, and from where I sit, there isn't really one embarrassment among them. Wait! I take that back: There's "Thoroughly Modern Millie," a film that I dislike to the point of irrationality.
He was an active force in New York during the 1950s, directing both plays and live TV dramas, including among other titles, the original Playhouse 90 production of Abby Mann's "Judgment at Nuremberg" in 1959 (wherein Maximilian Schell played the same role that would inevitably win him an Oscar two years later for the 1961 Stanley Kramer film version).
Hill directed the original stage production of the Tennessee Williams comedy, "Period of Adjustment," and when MGM made it into a movie in 1962, Hill was part of the package, guiding star Jane Fonda through one of her most charming performances. He followed this directorial debut with another filmed play, Lillian Hellman's "Toys in the Attic," made a year later and starring Dean martin, Geraldine Page and Wendy Hiller.
His third film was the very charming and very urbane 1964 Peter Sellers lark, "The World of Henry Orient," which Hill would also direct as a Broadway musical, titled "Henry, Sweet Henry," in 1967. Two films with Julie Andrews followed in 1966 and '67, both roadshow attractions - "Hawaii" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie," respectively.
Then came "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
From that point on, Hill helmed a pleasingly eclectic selection of titles, including "A Little Romance" (1979), Diane Keaton's "Little Drummer Girl" (1984) and what I consider to be His two best films, "Slaughterhouse-Five" (1972) and "The World According to Garp" (1982). He reunited with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, of course, for the Oscar-winning "The Sting" (1973), himself taking the best director Oscar that year, and would subsequently also direct Bob in "The Great Waldo Pepper" (1975) and Paul in "Slap Shot" (1977), both fine, sturdy films.
His last film was "The Funny Farm," with Chevy Chase, made in 1988. Hill died from complications from Parkinson's disease in 2002, at the age 81